Behgjet Isa Pacolli (born 30 August 1951) is a Kosovar politician and businessman who served as the First Deputy Prime Minister of Kosovo and Minister of Foreign Affairs from 2017 to 2019 under the Ramush Haradinaj's government. Pacolli is a former President of Kosovo, and previously served as the First Deputy Prime Minister of Kosovo between 2011 and 2014. Pacolli was one of the signatories of 2008 Kosovo declaration of independence.
|3rd President of Kosovo|
22 February 2011 – 4 April 2011
|Prime Minister||Hashim Thaçi|
|Preceded by||Jakup Krasniqi|
|Succeeded by||Atifete Jahjaga|
|First Deputy Prime Minister of Kosovo|
15 April 2011 – 9 December 2014
|Prime Minister||Hashim Thaçi|
|Preceded by||Hajredin Kuçi|
|Succeeded by||Hashim Thaçi|
9 September 2017 – 3 February 2020
|Prime Minister||Ramush Haradinaj|
|Preceded by||Hajredin Kuçi|
|Succeeded by||Avdullah Hoti|
|Minister of Foreign Affairs|
9 September 2017 – 3 February 2020
|Prime Minister||Ramush Haradinaj|
|Preceded by||Emanuel Demaj (Acting)|
|Succeeded by||Glauk Konjufca|
|Born||30 August 1951|
Pristina, PR Serbia, Yugoslavia
(now Pristina, Kosovo)
|Political party||New Kosovo Alliance (2006–February 2011; April 2011–present)|
|Independent (February–April 2011)|
(m. 1999; div. 2002)
|Net worth||US$900 million|
He is the major shareholder of Mabetex Group, a Swiss-based construction and civil-engineering company. Pacolli is also the President of the third biggest political party in Kosovo the New Kosovo Alliance. He is believed to be the world's richest ethnic Albanian.
As a young man, Pacolli contacted companies throughout Austria and Germany seeking work and soon after finishing his military service, he joined an Austrian company, for which he worked as a sales representative for ex-Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Poland and Russia. Two years later, he moved to Switzerland and joined a Swiss company he had gotten to know in Moscow.
Early life and education
Behgjet Pacolli (born in Marec, Prishtina) is the son of Isa and Nazmije, the second of ten children, married to Mrs. Masha Pacolli. He is the father of three daughters (Arbresha, Selena, Hana) and three sons (Isa, Diar and Arman). He completed his primary education in Marec and high school in Prishtina. He is Kosovo Albanian by ethnicity but has a Swiss citizenship as well. After receiving his bachelor's degree from the Hamburg Institute of Foreign Trade in Hamburg, Germany (1970–1973), in 1974, he completed his military service in the Yugoslav army and returned to Kosovo.
Behgjet Pacolli went to graduate school at the Mösinger Zurich Institute, where he received his master's degree in Marketing and Management (1980–1982). He speaks various foreign languages, including: English, French, German, Italian, Russian, Spanish, and Serbian.
In 1974, Behgjet Pacolli started his career as a Foreign Language Correspondent and Deputy Director for Development at the Textile Enterprise in Gjilan. He held this position until 1975 when he once again left Kosovo to move to the West to pursue career opportunities.
From 1976 to 1980, Behgjet Pacolli held important management positions in several companies, such as, Commercial Director for Regional Development of the company Peter Zimmer in Kufstein, Austria, Commercial Director of Interplastica Project Engineering in Morbio Inf., Switzerland, and afterwards he was named General Director at the same company (Interplastica).
In the fall of 1990, he founded Mabetex Project Management, a construction company based in Lugano, Switzerland, which has developed into a large business group now called the Mabetex Group, with interests in construction, banking, insurance, hospital, media, design, etc.
In 1992 Pacolli worked closely with the Yakut Mayor Pavel Borodin on several construction projects in Yakutia, Russia. Following the appointment of Pavel Borodin as head of Russia's presidential real estate, Mabetex was able to secure several major contracts for the renovation, renovation and restoration of the former parliament of the Russian Federation, the Russian State Opera, the State Duma and the Moscow Kremlin. Mabetex also built the Swiss Diamond Hotel - the first luxury hotel to be built in Russia's new era.
In Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan, the Mabetex group built the award-winning project for the town house. Mabetex has been working on two projects since 2019, the Vip Terminal and the international terminal at Tashkents Airport, with completion expected in mid-2020.
Mabetex was the general contractor and developer of the Central Concert Hall in Kazakhstan. Mabetex is currently active in Kazakhstan, where it has played a significant role in the construction of the new capital Astana; The presidential palace was one of the construction projects. The renovation of the President's residence is symbolic of Mabetex's great achievements in Kazakhstan.
For dignitaries, staying in the now luxurious presidential residence with all its splendor is just as much a pleasure as for President Nursultan Nazarbayev, who holds his presidency there. Located on the east bank of the Ischim River, its architecture combines classic, modern and ethnic influences.
The presidential residence is part of a complex of modern administration buildings in the new city center and serves as a symbol for the new face of Kazakhstan. The Mabetex group is active in the country's construction sector and has constructed almost 40% of the buildings in the new districts of Astana. One of the most recent projects is the Classic Theater House for Opera and Ballet: The Opera House is the largest in Central Asia and was opened on June 21, 2013.
In Italy, the Mabetex group was responsible for the preparatory work and the project to renovate the La Fenice theater in Venice after it was destroyed by fire.
In 2011 Pacolli had the luxurious Swiss Diamond Hotel built on the Mother Teresa Boulevard near the central Skanderbeg Square in the middle of the capital Pristina. The six-story building has 141 equipped rooms and a spacious wellness and spa area. The hotel was awarded the 5-star Diamond Award by the American Academy of Hospitality Sciences.
Behgjet Pacolli is also the main shareholder of Banka Ekonomike.
In 2018 Mabetex started new construction projects in the Mongolian capital Ulam Batur and its surroundings, the luxurious “Turtle Rock Resort” as well as exclusive residences and a Boutique Hotel
Lobbying for Kosovo Independence
Behgjet Pacolli's commitment to improving the livelihood in his homeland began soon after the war in Kosovo ended. In 2005 he created the lobbying company "The New Kosovo Alliance", through which he lobbied exclusively for the creation of the country of Kosovo. In this journey, Pacolli collaborated with many important figures in world politics, especially American leaders, such as Frank Carlucci, Morton Abramovitz, S. Waterman, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Janusz Bugajski, Henry Kissinger, and many others. For four years, he was also a member of the board of trustees of the Center for International and Strategic Studies (CSIS), in the Committee led by Henry Kissinger, during which time he continued his lobbying efforts towards creating the appropriate conditions for declaring Kosovo an independent country.
The New Kosovo Alliance's lobbying mission, was considered fulfilled by Pacolli and other members of the organization, at the time when President Bush during his visit to Tirana in June 2007, stated, "Kosovo must be a country, an independent republic, now".
Since Kosovo's declaration of independence in February 2008, Pacolli has been working diligently lobbying countries to officially recognize Kosovo as an independent country. Pacolli continues his lobbying activities all around the world, where he meets senior leaders of world countries in an attempt to convince them of the arguments in favor of recognizing Kosovo's independence.
New Kosovo Alliance
In the 2007 elections, AKR becomes the third party and leads the parliamentary opposition in Kosovo, giving its contribution to the declaration of Kosovo's independence on February 17th, 2008. During this period, although in opposition, Behgjet Pacolli continued to work towards achieving international recognition of Kosovo's independence.
Pacolli became a deputy in the Assembly of Kosovo and a member of the Committee for Budget and Finance. With Pacolli's rise in politics, he was seen as a great asset not only to Kosovo but to its development.
On 22 February 2011, Behgjet Pacolli was elected the 3rd President of the Republic of Kosovo. During the first days in his new role, he visited Mitrovica and crossed into Serb-majority North Kosovo to reaffirm Kosovo's authority and sovereignty on the area. Pacolli went on two out-of-the-country visits as the President of Kosovo, visiting Albania and Macedonia.
He left the role (though without formally resigning) on 4 April 2011, after the Constitutional Court of Kosovo had ruled that his election procedure had been irregular.
First Deputy Prime Minister
After his withdrawal from the president's office, Behgjet Pacolli decided to continue the co-governance and took on the role of the First Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Kosovo. During this time, with a mandate for recognitions and for foreign investments, he led the lobbying campaign for the recognition and inclusion of Kosovo as a country in the international arena, holding meetings with more than 100 presidents, prime ministers, and kings from many different countries of the world. Pacolli has proven a creative approach to his work, focusing in the African region, in influential countries and the change of institutional regulations for foreign investment, with the aim of creating an attractive environment for business.
Behgjet Pacolli continues to lead The New Kosovo Alliance, whose sole mission is the economic development of the Republic of Kosovo, thus improving the livelihood of its citizens and especially the perspective for the youth.
Vice Prime Minister and Foreign Minister
From September 2017 to February 2020, Behgjet Pacolli served as Vice Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of the Republic of Kosovo with great commitment.
Throughout his career in global business, Behgjet Pacolli also developed philanthropic activities. Through the foundation which holds his name, he stimulates the education of youth in elite schools, helps the poor, builds schools, hospitals, supports sports, culture, etc. In 1993, Pacolli established "Les Enfants du Sakha", presently known as "Ibrahim Kodra Foundation" a fund with the stated goal of providing help in the medical care, education and recreation of children. Several times, Pacolli has also been directly involved in the release of hostages in Afghanistan and in other countries undergoing conflict. In 2004, three United Nations workers were taken hostage in Kabul, Annette Flannigan, Angelito Nayan and Shqipe Hebibi, who was from Kosovo and had neither representation nor support from the outside. Behgjet Pacolli traveled to Afghanistan for one month of intensive personal work and negotiations on their behalf and has been credited with securing their release. It was two years later that the whole story repeated itself when the Italian citizen, Gabrielle Torsello was kidnapped in Afghanistan. Behgjet Pacolli was contacted by the Italian services in order to negotiate his liberation and was successful in doing so.
Just in Kosovo, "Behgjet Pacolli Foundation" has donated over 20 million euros for various projects. Its national and international activities include:
- Main sponsor of the Aleksandër Moisiu Foundation
- Founder of the Foundation and Orphanages “Bambimi Di Sakha”
- 1993 – Founder and sponsor of the hospital for the shelter and care of abandoned children born with physical disabilities in Sakha
- 1999 – In cooperation with the Foundation “Insieme per la pace” and Ms. Fanfani, intervenes massively in offering aid in Kukës, Ivangrad, for the refugees expelled from Kosovo
- 1999 – Foundation for Rebuilding Kosovo (FORK), Prishtina
- Support to Kosovo hospitals with pharmaceuticals
- 2000-2004 – Support for building the infrastructure of Kosovo Protection Corps (TMK) in Prishtina and contribution towards its professional equipment
- 2004 – Founder of the foundation South East European Development (SEED), Washington, D.C., (foundation for lobbying and promoting the independence of Kosovo)
- 2006 – Founder and head of the New Kosovo Alliance (Aleanca Kosova e Re - AKR [sq]) political party (AKR is ranked as the third political party in the country, during its first elections in 2007)
- 2006 – Mediation and release of the journalist taken hostage in Afghanistan, Gabriele Torsello
- 2006 – Foundation Behgjet Pacolli, Prishtinë, contributes in scholarships, social assistance for people in need, building houses for the poor and other social and cultural contributions
- 2006 – Large donations for renovation of the Building of the Parliament of Kosovo
- 2007 – Designed, sponsored and funded the building of the American University in Kosovo’ campus.
- 2008-2011 – Permanent lobbying for the recognition of the Republic of Kosovo as an independent and sovereign country
- 2008 – Financed the reconstruction and restoration of the Mosque of Llap (Xhamia e Llapit) in Prishtina, a building which is enlisted as part of the cultural heritage of Kosovo
- 2009 – Financed the expansion and construction of the College of Philosophy within the University of Prishtina
- 2012 – Release of the pilot James Berisha, who was taken hostage in Eritrea. Intensive engagement for the release of Swedish-Eritrean journalist Dawit Isaak, arrested by the Eritrean authorities in 2001
- Sponsor of sports and culture in Kosovo
- Full support in the construction of houses for the poor (ongoing)
- Assistance for dozens of patients in receiving the necessary treatment out of the country (ongoing)
- Social aid for people with disabilities and people in need (monthly stipend) (ongoing)
- Member of the Center for International and Strategic Studies (CSIS),] Washington, permanent adviser to the committee led by Henry Kissinger
On 26 November 2019, an earthquake struck Albania. As outgoing Kosovo Deputy Prime Minister Behgjet Pacolli and his family personally donated 1 million euros to the relief effort.
Honors and awards
- Certificate of appreciation from the AUK (American University in Kosovo)
- Highest honorary award of the Russian Federation
- “The Acknowledgement of the City of Tirana” honor, given by the mayor of Tirana, Lulëzim Basha, in 2015
- Peace Ambassador from the Universal Peace Federation
- Honors by the Kosovo Protection Corps (TMK)
- Peru: Peruvian President awards Peru the highest honor
- Nelson Mandela Foundation Award
- Liberia: Honorary Diplomat of the State of Liberia
- Peace Prize Gusi Peace Prize, Philippines
- Ambassador of Peace to the Universal Peace Federation
- Cavalier del Millennio per la Pace ("Knight of Peace of the Millennium") of the Centro Nazionale per la pace, Italy
- Honorary citizen of the cities of Lezha and Korça
- Key (2011) and certificate of recognition (2015) from the city of Tirana
- Doctor honoris causa of the European University of Tirana
- Special Leadership Award from the POLIS University for his life's work in politics, peace-building and humanitarian work
- Rochester Institute of Technology Honorary Degree
- Acknowledgment from US President Bill Clinton
- Honorary Citizen of the City of Baton Rouge, Louisiana
- Chancellor's Gold Medal of the Community College in Baton Rouge, Louisiana
- Keys to the City of New Orleans and the State of Louisiana
- Honorary Citizen of Astana, Kazakhstan
- Order of the Kazakh President Kurmet (2016) for services to the economy, science, culture, education and social affairs
- Kazakh President “2015 Constitution of Kazakhstan” Medal (2015)
- Doctor honoris causa of European University of Tirana
- Albania: On 21 March 2011 received a copy of the key of the city of Tirana on the occasion of his state visit to Albania.
- Albania: In 2015 President Nishani decorates Behgjet Pacolli with the Honor of Nation Order
- Title Doctor Honoris Causa in Economics "Ismail Qemali" University, Albania, 2018
- In December 2019, Minister Behgjet Pacolli was received in a private audience by Pope Francis. Pacolli spoke of "the traditional good relations and contribution of the Holy See to Kosovo during its tumultuous history and in the face of current socio-economic challenges.“
- On December 27, 2019 Behgjet Pacolli received the high award "Mother Teresa" in Tirana for his services, personally from the Albanian President Ilir Meta. One of many awards for his commitment in all these years.
- Founder of the daily newspaper “Lajm” (Eng.: News), founded in 2004.
- Author of the autobiography “From Challenge to Challenge: Life Behgjet Pacolli”, published in 2010
- Author of the documentary book “To lobby for Kosovo”. The book is a summary of documents, articles, experiences, and comments on lobbying for the international recognition of Kosovo's independence. The book was published in 2014.
Notes and references
- Albanian: Behgjet Isa Pacolli [bɛhˈɟɛt paˈtsoɫi]; Serbo-Croatian: Behđet Isa Pacoli.
- Kosovo is the subject of a territorial dispute between the Republic of Kosovo and the Republic of Serbia. The Republic of Kosovo unilaterally declared independence on 17 February 2008. Serbia continues to claim it as part of its own sovereign territory. The two governments began to normalise relations in 2013, as part of the 2013 Brussels Agreement. Kosovo is currently recognized as an independent state by 96 out of the 193 United Nations member states. In total, 113 UN member states are said to have recognized Kosovo at some point, of which 15 later withdrew their recognition.
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